1. Drew Brees (NO) – Needless to say, we like his chances against any defense, but a week 3 meeting with Buffalo is especially favorable. In their first 2 games, the Bills defense has given up 5 passing TD’s and 664 passing yards. We see no reason why Brees should not shred this secondary en route to another huge fantasy performance. There is some concern about the potential weather conditions for this game, but we doubt even a hurricane could slow down this passing attack. Check injury report: shoulder (full practice: probable)
2. Peyton Manning (IND) – In spite of the fact that the Colts offense was only on the field for less than fifteen minutes, Manning still managed to throw for over 300 yards and 2 scores against the Dolphins on Monday night. He has the potential to be even better in week 3 against a fairly generous Cardinals pass defense. As usual, Manning is a must start fantasy option.
3. Aaron Rodgers (GB) – He has yet to meet his lofty expectations to this point mostly due to poor pass protection that has led to him getting sacked 10 times in 2 games. The good news is that a week 3 meeting with St. Louis provides a very favorable opportunity to get things headed in the right direction. It is safe to say that the Rams present Rodgers with his best match up to date as they field one of the worst defenses in the NFL and with just 1 team sack to their credit so far, they present little challenge in the form of a pass rush. Greg Jennings should also be healthier this week which goes a long way in boosting Rodgers’ fantasy impact. If Rodgers can’t get it done against the Rams, it could be time to worry, but we are more than optimistic about his chances.
4. Tom Brady (NE) – Sure, he was shaky on Sunday and he may be a little further behind than we anticipated, but we believe Brady’s poor play in week 2 was more a result of a great Jets defense than his own shortcomings. Just look at what the Jets did to Houston QB Matt Schaub in week 1 and then look at Schaub’s numbers in week 2. You probably can’t expect him to rebound like Schaub, but we would be very surprised if Brady does not respond with more than a solid performance. He will face a young, middle of the road Falcons pass defense in week 3. Atlanta has yet to face a QB anywhere near Brady’s caliber this season.
5. Phillip Rivers (SD) – Week 2 had its down moments for Rivers, but all in all, it was a big fantasy effort with 436 passing yards and 2 TD’s against one of the best defenses the NFL has to offer (Baltimore). He should carry that momentum into week 3 against a young and demoralized Miami pass defense at home. Rivers only managed pedestrian like numbers against Miami in 2008, but the circumstances are much different this time around. The Dolphins have already allowed 8 pass plays of 20 yards or more and 3 pass plays of 40 yards or more. This bodes well for the Chargers who often find pay dirt on big plays through the air. You should have Rivers in your fantasy line up with confidence.
6. Matt Schaub (HOU) – The season is still young, but at least we can now take comfort in knowing that Schaub isn’t likely to be a bust after rebounding in a big way from a terrible week 1. In fact, we have a great deal of confidence in him heading into a week 3 match up with Jacksonville. Schaub’s best fantasy effort of 2008 came against the Jaguars and Jacksonville’s secondary has been shaky at best through the first 2 weeks of 2009. A confident Matt Schaub is back on track as a quality QB1 for week 3.
7. Kurt Warner (ARI) – While his fantasy numbers were not through the roof, Warner was near flawless from an efficiency standpoint in week 2. Efficiency and big fantasy numbers could prove more difficult to come by in week 3 against a Colts pass defense that is only giving up 139 yards per game and has yet to allow a single passing TD through 2 games. That said, Warner is by far the best QB Indianapolis has faced to date and our hope is that this game turns into a shootout through the air. Our fear, however, is that the Cardinals abandon their normal pass happy approach in favor of the ground game against a weak Colts run defense. This is a difficult match up, but you can never underestimate Warner’s fantasy potential with the best group of WR’s in the league at his disposal. Check injury report: shoulder (full practice: probable)
8. Tony Romo (DAL) – We are being kind in saying that Romo flat out stunk it up against the Giants last Sunday night. Maybe the pressure of playing the first game in the new stadium got to him, but it did come as a surprise against a team that he had previously had a great deal of success against. Romo will look to bounce back in week 3 against Carolina. On paper, the Panthers pass defense looks pretty good, allowing just 151 passing yards per game, but that is more than misleading considering their week 1 opponent (Philadelphia) barely threw the ball against them after opening up a huge lead early in that contest. The more telling statistic is the 5 TD’s Carolina has allowed through the air. Romo has a history of strong performances in Monday night games and he should rebound against a shaky Panther pass defense, but his decision making must improve.
9. Matt Ryan (ATL) – With 5 TD passes and just 1 interception through the first 2 weeks, Matt Ryan is clearly proving that he is more than just an efficient passer. He truly belongs among the NFL’s better fantasy QB’s. In week 3, Ryan will face off against a good, but not great, New England pass defense. While Bill Belichick’s game plan is likely to create a few stumbling blocks for the second year signal caller, Ryan should come out on top in this match up. He is easily the best QB that New England has faced so far this season and Ryan should be a solid fantasy play for week 3.
10. Eli Manning (NYG) – Throughout his career, Eli Manning has notoriously played the role of serviceable bye week fill in or spot starter in fantasy circles. While he still has a ways to go to be granted elite status, he could be on the brink of transcending into a solid week to week fantasy option. For the first time ever, Manning appears to have a wide selection of quality targets to choose from in his arsenal which could yield positive results on a consistent basis. At the very least, Manning’s fantasy stock is on the rise and as long as opposing defenses continue to focus on stopping Brandon Jacobs and ignore the Giants emerging passing game, it should continue to rise, but keep in mind, the Giants will likely maintain their run first philosophy which will limit him at times. With all of that being said, we do expect Manning to keep the momentum rolling into a favorable week 3 match up against a shaky Tampa Bay pass defense that has been more than generous through the first 2 weeks of the season.
11. Trent Edwards (BUF) – So far, so good for Edwards through the first 2 weeks and there is a decent chance that week 3 could be his best of the season so far. If the Saints high powered offense manages to jump out to a significant lead, as they are more than capable of doing in this match up, Edwards will be forced into throwing the ball a ton to play catch up. As you probably already know, this is a formula that can lead to big fantasy production. Edwards big play threats, Terrell Owens and Lee Evans, will have to step up this week to make it happen, but it isn’t at all unlikely against a suspect Saints secondary.
12. Jay Cutler (CHI) – What a difference a week can make. Following an embarrassing 4 interception performance in week 1, who would have guessed heading into a match up against the Steelers that Cutler would emerge as a fantasy contender once again? Other than his mother, probably no one. The fact of the matter is, he has done just that. Cutler was clearly on the same page with his receivers this past week and he may have found his big play guy in rookie receiver Johnny Knox. Cutler will look for continued success in a week 3 meeting with the Seahawks. Surprisingly, Seattle heads into week 3 with the 2nd ranked pass defense in the NFL having allowed just 293 passing yards and 0 passing TD’s through 2 games. As impressive as that may sound, it loses a fair amount of luster when you consider that Marc Bulger and Shaun Hill were the opposing signal callers in those 2 games. Cutler is a decent fantasy play for week 3, but we expect the Bears to focus more on the running game this week against a Seattle run defense that was blasted by Frank Gore for 207 yards and 2 TD’s in week 2.
13. Ben Roethlisberger (PIT) – Overall, Big Ben has enjoyed a pretty solid track record against week 3 opponent Cincinnati throughout his career. Nothing flashy, but consistently solid. He should continue the trend against a middle of the road Bengals pass defense this time around. Our only concern is a shaky Steelers offensive line going up against a much improved Bengals pass rush. Cincinnati currently leads the NFL with 9 sacks and they absolutely terrorized Aaron Rodgers in week 2.
14. David Garrard (JAC) – Due to his hit or miss nature as a fantasy prospect, Garrard is rarely a guy you can feel completely comfortable with in your starting line up. That holds true for week 3 as well. The match up against Houston is somewhat favorable as the Texans secondary has proven vulnerable against opposing passing games through the first 2 weeks. We also like the fact that Garrard has a potential deep threat in Mike Sims-Walker. That said, Garrard has a fairly average track record against Houston and he is too unpredictable to garner a huge vote of confidence.
15. Carson Palmer (CIN) – He is one of the tougher fantasy QB options to read heading into week 3. Following a lackluster performance against Denver in week 1, Palmer managed to throw for 3 TD’s and rush for another against what looked to be a very stout Green Bay defense, especially in the red zone. In turn, his week 3 opponent, Pittsburgh, was less than impressive against Jay Cutler who was coming off of a terrible performance against Green Bay. We apologize if this sounds like a riddle of sorts, but in reality, it kind of is. We do like the fact that Palmer is coming off of a good outing from a fantasy standpoint, but it was far from a mistake free performance. It is also favorable that the Steelers haven’t looked like themselves without Troy Polamalu. Bottom line, this is a tough match up to gauge, but we feel more comfortable listing Palmer as a QB2 this week.
16. Jason Campbell (WAS) – Once again, Campbell finds himself staring down a very favorable match up against Detroit. As we stated last week, Campbell rarely puts up big time fantasy numbers even against weak opposition, which held true against a soft St. Louis defense in week 2. However, in all fairness, Campbell has performed pretty well against Detroit in each of the last 2 seasons, but again, nothing spectacular. He probably can’t hurt you with this match up, but he hasn’t given anyone reason to have faith in him. If healthy, he has value as a QB2, but he is nursing a sprained ankle, so that makes him even less desirable. Check injury report: foot
17. Mark Sanchez (NYJ) – The rookie signal caller has a shot at his best fantasy week yet, even though that isn’t saying much. He will face a Titans defense that has been surprisingly terrible at defending the pass so far this season. Tennessee ranks dead last in the NFL in pass defense having allowed 678 yards through the air in 2 games. Considering that the Titans still possess one of the best run defenses in the NFL, we anticipate the Jets will open up the passing game against them this week. Even so, Sanchez has yet to make much noise in the fantasy realm, he is still a rookie and the Titans are still dangerous. This match up holds some promise, but it is not without risk.
18. Joe Flacco (BAL) – Flacco is showing consistent value as a fantasy starter and is on track to exceed preseason expectations. While we like his chances to continue his quality play in week 3, there are a couple of issues that concern us with this match up. For starters, the Browns actually have one of the better secondaries in the NFL, contrary to popular belief. Even last season, Cleveland ranked in the top half of the league in pass defense and their 23 interceptions ranked 2nd best in the NFL. Unfortunately, that isn’t our biggest concern as Flacco can overcome the match up. Our real concern here is that the Ravens will jump out to a big lead against a shaky Browns offense and abandon the passing attack. This is probable and would severely cripple any chance Flacco might have at a big fantasy performance.
19. Brett Favre (MIN) –After years of watching Favre play with an effective reckless abandon, it is strange to see him play the role of “game management” QB. So far, he has flourished in that role for the Vikings, but that style of play does not translate well into fantasy football. At some point, Favre may feel comfortable enough in this offense to return to the “loose cannon” style that led to so many huge fantasy efforts in the past, but for now, we don’t see it happening. He should continue to play efficiently in week 3 against a solid 49ers defense and that isn’t likely to make a big impact on fantasy stat sheets.
20. Kyle Orton (DEN) – He hasn’t been bad through the first 2 weeks, but he isn’t exactly lighting it up either. Orton will likely get there, but he still has some work to do to get on the same page with his supporting cast and he has yet to look completely comfortable in Denver’s offensive scheme. He is not ready to make a significant impact as a fantasy option and he may have his work cut out for him against a solid Oakland secondary in week 3. That said, we do expect Orton’s fantasy stock to improve to some degree as the season progresses.
21. Kevin Kolb (PHI) – Kolb’s lofty numbers in week 2 may be a bit misleading being a result of having to throw the ball early and often playing from behind against the Saints. The 3 ugly interceptions he threw were also unsettling, but it is still difficult to ignore a day that included 391 passing yards and 2 TD’s. He isn’t an ideal fantasy option for week 3 for a number of reasons, but he could have some sleeper value against a mediocre Chiefs pass defense at home.
22. Chad Pennington (MIA) – He may be limited by missing a lot of plays when Miami runs their “Wildcat” package and Pennington’s conservative nature doesn’t do fantasy owners any favors either. There could be some big plays to be had against a suspect Chargers secondary in week 3, but he typically puts up average fantasy numbers at best and does not come highly recommended.
23. Byron Leftwich (TB) – He doesn’t make for an ideal fantasy QB, but considering that Tampa is likely to continue to have to throw the ball a ton this season playing from behind, Leftwich will put up some quality numbers from time to time. That said, week 3 against a potent Giants defense may not be the best match up to test that theory.
24. Matt Cassel (KC) – He may be playing for his job and that alone can sometimes bring out the best in a player from a fantasy standpoint, but we would like his chances much more against a softer defense. He is a very risky start on the road against the Eagles. Check injury report: knee.
25. Kerry Collins (TEN) – He could dink and dunk his way to decent numbers in week 3, but it’s a long shot against a Jets defense that has already embarrassed two of the best QB’s in the NFL. His best shot at production will be with the short passing game.